From the Hemel-en-Aarde valley to Stellenbosch to the Constantia winelands, the Cap Classique corks have been popping this week as three South African vineyards claimed coveted titles at the World’s Best Vineyards awards.
The annual awards, now in their fifth year, are convened by digital data and events business William Reed — which also organises the closely watched World’s 50 Best Restaurants list — and were this year presented in the Spanish wine region of Rioja.
The awards are voted on by more than 500 wine critics, sommeliers and wine tourism experts from across the world, and while there are no set judging criteria, voters give particular weight to winelands destinations that offer an irresistible combination of fine wine, culinary adventure, authentic hospitality and a variety of immersive experiences.
This year’s awards were a particular triumph for New World wineries, with the century-old Catena Zapata Wines (in Mendoza, Argentina) hailed as the world’s best vineyard, with Viña VIK in Chile claiming third place. South America emerged as this year’s big winner, with six cellars in the top 10.
But SA certainly made an impact too, with Creation Wines — in the Hemel-en-Aarde valley of the Cape’s Overberg region — winning a respectable fourth place overall, beating iconic producers such as Chateau d’Yquem in France and Penfolds in Australia. This is also the fourth time that Creation has been listed as the top estate in Africa.
“The positive impact this listing has on the estate and our fine wine industry cannot be underestimated,” said Carolyn Martin, co-owner and creative director of Creation Wines. “So many elements need to be brought into harmony to create and enhance our visitor experience. We want to preserve our natural heritage for generations to come and this must be at the very core of not only the fine wines we produce, but the fine people we must grow.”
“The World’s Best Vineyards continues to highlight wine tourism destinations around the globe and with an impressive list of new entries this year, it’s more important than ever,” noted Andrew Reed, MD of wine and exhibitions at William Reed. “We’ve found that local and international tourists are looking for experiences that offer a whole host of activities.”
That’s certainly the case at Creation Wines, which has long prided itself on a multifaceted journey into food and wine. Aside from the tutored wine tastings, with each pour served in Riedel’s varietal-specific stemware, the cellar restaurant offers a deep dive into wine pairing, highlighting the seasonal produce of the region. There’s also a specific focus on vegan and flexitarian tasting menus, appealing to the more sustainability-minded traveller.
Beyond the tasting room, Creation Wines offers stylish winelands accommodation in Die Voormanshuis; a thoroughly contemporary bolt-hole. Aside from the views onto the fynbos-clad slopes of the Babylonstoren, there’s a wonderful art experience on offer here too; the walls hung with works by Jacobus Pierneef, Marjorie Wallace, Jan Vermeiren and Christo Coetzee. Also look outdoors to land-artist Strijdom van der Merwe’s playful Stairway to Heaven.
Creation wasn’t the only South African winner in the awards; and if it’s art you’re after, it’s little wonder Delaire Graff Estate made a showing at number 37 on the awards list.
The estate offers a wealth of works by local and international artists, both outdoors in the landscaped gardens and throughout the Delaire Graff Restaurant and Wine Lounge. Wine tastings here are guided by expert wine ambassadors in an elegant space dishing up superb vineyard views.
Delaire Graff is set to make more waves in the world of luxury wine tourism this year with the October reopening of the Delaire Graff Lodges & Spa after an extensive refurbishment. The estate worked once again with the renowned David Collins Studio, so expect a striking revamp of the guest spaces and luxurious “lodges”.
While Delaire Graff celebrates contemporary opulence, Cape Town’s Klein Constantia Estate earned a respectable 32nd place for both its remarkable history and continued dedication to cool-climate winemaking and the evolution of its famed Vin de Constance natural sweet wine. Here the elegant tasting room looks into the cellar and dedicated Vin de Constance barrel room, while a few steps away The Bistro offers elevated country-style cuisine.